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Fan club visits

Warm receptions for Pep and players

The New Year began at Bayern with visits to far-flung Qatar and Kuwait, but on Sunday the stars and personalities took the opportunity to see something of the region closer to home. The reason was the traditional and annual round of fan club visits, normally a pre-Christmas affair but postponed until the New Year on this occasion due to the FIFA Club World Cup. Many official fan clubs enter the draw for the chance to host a big Bayern name, and this year the players and coaching staff travelled to the usual wide variety of locations including the Allgäu region, Lower Bavaria, Franconia, Swabia and the Upper Palatinate. Manuel Neuer went all the way to Austria, and Tom Starke crossed the border to South Tyrol.

Pep Guardiola travelled a much shorter 30 km to the south of Munich and the town of Glonn, where the FCB contingent among the 5,000 inhabitants greeted the coach to the accompaniment of a marching band. The Spaniard signed the community’s Golden Book, reserved for special guests of honour, and ceremonially entered the hall set aside for the event to the strains of a brass band. Some 450 FC Bayern Stammtisch Glonn '94 members and their invited guests warmly welcomed the FCB head coach.

“I’m delighted to be here,” said Guardiola, “it’s the first time I’ve been part of the FC Bayern fan club visits.“ On the day after his 43rd birthday, the Spaniard was visibly impressed by the programme devised in his honour: a birthday song in Spanish, a huge cake, and a traditional Bavarian jacket inscribed with his name. The coach immediately put on the fine sheepskin garment and was still wearing it when he left. Sister Carmen from the local convent bestowed the Order of the Good Shepherd on the Bayern coach, who was naturally made an honorary member of the club as well.

Q&A with the kids

Guardiola confessed to a few nerves before a Q&A session with the children in the audience. “Kids always ask the dangerous questions,” laughed the father of three. The local food was good but Mediterranean cuisine is “a bit better,” the Catalan said. He diplomatically named his son Marius when asked for his favourite player. And could he imagine coaching a women’s team? “Yes, I’m just waiting for an offer,” Guardiola smiled.

The head coach answered every single question put to him, and even passed a test of basic Bavarian, including some genuine dialect words, with flying colours. However, the most demanding and strenuous part of the afternoon was still to come, as practically every single member of the audience queued for an autograph and a snap with one of the world’s most successful coaches.

The other personalities at the club enjoyed similar afternoons on the road. On his trip to Hofherrnweiler in Swabia, Uli Hoeneß barely batted an eyelid during a power cut and entertained the audience with many anecdotes. Franck Ribéry conducted the brass band on his visit to Altmühl-Power '02 and was obliged to show his skill at the video console. As always, the annual round of fan club visits was an unforgettable experience for everyone concerned, the loyal supporters and their famous guests from Munich alike.